For diners, volunteers, fulfillment comes in sharing holiday meal

Posted December 25, 2016

— For the 41st year, the Golden Corral on Raleigh's Glenwood Avenue celebrated Christmas in a special way – by serving a free, traditional holiday dinner to those who otherwise might have missed out on the holiday feast.

More than 1,000 dined and 85 volunteered to serve them a free meal. Both groups agreed: the shared feeling was the most filling.

Navy veteran Alex Collins and his son played both roles. They volunteered and were served.

"Everybody was like really trying to support each other and just get in the Christmas spirit," Collins said.

Many of those who gathered at the restaurant were senior citizens, some were homeless, others, Collins said, were simply coming off a difficult year and needed a taste of Christmas cheer.

"People need to understand that if you have something it would benefit you to help other people out, because you never know what position you may be in yourself. So it's not wise to judge," he said. "I'll never judge."

Alison Garrett shared a smile as she greeted guests.

"I absolutely just love the people that come in, and you know they're just so grateful and thankful for a meal," she said.

"Some people are just lonely. There's a lot of people out here that don't have anyone. They're here by themselves, and I try to seat them with somebody else."

Garrett has spent her Christmas Day at Golden Corral for 10 years.

"It's not just a tradition for the Golden Corral, but a tradition for those who volunteer here as well," she said, pointing to the Wolf family, who have made it part of their family celebration for nearly four decades.

"This isn't just a feeding," Garrett said. "They're leaving with something."


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